Florence Nightingale established principles and practices for nurses that are relevant to the profession of nursing today. Her explorations of mysticism and her spiritual journey were remarkable and timely. She used statistics and graphics to help understand problems, set goals, assign metrics for improvement, and translate evidence into practice. She revolutionized patient care by making hand washing, bathing, fresh air, exposure to sun light, and other principles of infection control mandatory. She based her actions on systematic observation, documentation, and critical thinking, leading her to develop and implement action plans to improve sanitary conditions and improve efficiencies in care and operations. She processed data into information and knowledge and made knowledge-based decisions, presaging nursing informatics. Her fearless advocacy for patients required a spiritual and intellectual strength that is applicable today and helpful to nurses who look for mission and purpose.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Describe the importance of situational awareness to evidence-based nursing and clinical/operational outcomes.
  • Understand the power of graphical presentation of data in influencing support for positive change.
  • Communicate the interdependence of nursing data, information, and outcomes.
  • Discuss the relentless pursuit of “mission” in Nightingale’s journey and how it changed her world view.
  • Compare Nightingale’s concept of nursing as a spiritual practice to personal nursing experience.


Juliana Brixey, PhD, MPH, RN, Associate Professor, The University of Texas Health Sciences
Pamela Salyer, PhD, RN, BC, Project Manager, Process Consultant, Houston Methodist Center for Innovation
Debora Simmons, PhD, RN, CCNS, FAAN, Assistant Professor, UTHealth School of Biomedical Informatics

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